Shares in Marks & Spencer rose 9p to finish on 641.5p yesterday, as analysts breathed a sigh of relief that its first-quarter results were not as bad as they had feared.

The retailer reported a 2% increase in UK like-for-like sales, with UK sales up 6.4%. Group sales rose 7%.

Like-for-like food sales rose 0.7%, against growth of 5.8% the year before and 3% the previous quarter, but analysts were still impressed by the growth following bad weather and interest rate rises.

“M&S may at present look a little lacklustre, but the market hasn't seen the figures from its competitors,” said Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner. “We believe that M&S has outperformed the market. With very little exposure to big ticket items and with a larger food and clothing offer, M&S is well placed in the sector.”

Richard Hunter, head of UK equities at Hargreaves Lansdown added: “The actual numbers are sluggish by their own standards but much of the sting had already been taken out of the news ahead of today.”